Under Thorpe Cloud

Now, I’m not what you might call a fitness freak.  Every time I pass the gym on Upperton Rd and look at the row of people all cycling towards me without getting anywhere, I feel like laughing.  Joggers are more liberally-sprinkled on our pavements than lamp-posts, but I think jogging is a form of torture and marathons an extreme form.  On the news, both national and local, there are daily reports of outlandish feats of endurance raising money for this or that; but I don’t begin to comprehend why anyone would want to put themselves through something like a triathlon.  My leisure time is taken up with reading, watching TV, drinking beer with buddies and listening to music.  And when I go on holiday I enjoy a gentle walk; a stroll along the beach, a little light climbing perhaps, a bit of a swim.  Nothing too demanding.  Yet the last two church holidays I’ve been on have involved rather over-enthusiastic types who think nothing of shooting up a steep mountain the moment they’ve pitched their tent.  Such as this one:

which I declined to ascend at that point as I’d spent all night in a freezing tent and had to get up twice to pee.

The beach holiday, years ago, was much nicer.  Still on the first morning I wanted nothing more than to laze in the sun and hope my children didn’t drown themselves.  But it became clear that a group of these said hardy individuals were planning to latch themselves onto a rope for the purposes of pulling a bus along the promenade!  Why they would wish to do such a thing when they could be soaking up the sun, was a mystery to me, and when they had all charged up the shingle yelling ‘huzzah!’ I expressed my view to someone sitting near me.  ‘They’re bonkers, aren’t they?’ I said.  ‘Why don’t they just sit and enjoy the sun?’

She gave me a look, part-sorrow and part-anger.  Turned out she was just putting her trainers on so she, too could dash up the shingle and go pull a bus!!  I ask you!

But recently all this determined non-climbing and non-bus-pulling has started to catch up with me.  Living where we now do, I need to cycle a fair bit to get around; and so I’m having to supplement  my usual diet of fairly gentle yoga and sporadic walking with some good hard chugging up slopes and down again.  I’m getting better at it; and the other night when it was cold and wet I actually broke into a spontaneous jog!  Whatever next?

Better save me a bus, I guess…

Spring! workshop tomorrow, folks at the Embrace Arts centre.  Our workshop starts at 12 so see you there!


Kirk out

A Novel Beginning

OK now how does this grab you as the start of a novel?

A phone rings in the hall.  A hand appears from the dark; a hand with white fingers.  There’s a silver ring on the fourth finger.  The hand picks up the receiver.  A voice sounds low, almost whispering, the words indecipherable.  The phone is put down.

From the bureau in the hall a flap is lowered.  The same hand reaches for a yellow pad and a blue biro.  The ring glints as the hand writes on the paper.  The biro has a white bulb at one end like a ball of snot.  The blue pen writes a few lines and then stops.

That is how it starts.

Chapter 1

As they splashed in their thick boots down the muddy land, Sara looked regretfully at the locked door of the pub.  There were aspects of jogging that she liked: the open air, the views, the company – the feeling of well-being once you’d taken a shower afterwards – but it was the sheer persistence of the thing which bugged her.  Could they not stop once in a while to look a the view?  Or pick up a fallen leaf to admire the half-eaten pattern of it?  Or simply rest and breathe because they felt like it?  No.  None of these things could happen – because they were jogging – and once you were jogging you jogged.  You had to keep jogging until the jog was finished, otherwise you’d have stopped jogging and entered a different state, one which needed defining and sanctioning.

There’s no fluidity, grumbled Sara to herself as they crossed a stream by a tiny bridge.  She would have liked to stop and admire the fret-work of the bridge; the pattern of straight and wavy lines in fine metal – a filigree design, almost, she thought, but the pack was already fifty yards in front and on the point of noticing her absence.

Why had she ever thought joining in was a good thing?  As someone at the rear of the pack half-turned to see where she was, Sara bent double, pretending to be catching her breath.  It was then that she saw the foot.

What shocked her the most was that the boot was similar to her own.  It could have been herself lying there, half-in and half-out of the water, with one foot upturned on teh bank and the other hidden under the leg.  It was as though the person had been sitting cross-legged on the bank and just tipped in.  Except that then, they would have fallen completely into the stream – but here was a body half-in and half on the bank, the waters running over her head like Ophelia and – she has seen it but in her shock not taken it in – blood mingling with the hair and the clear water.  Fresh blood.

Tara was at her elbow.  ‘Are you all right -?’ she began to say, but inhaled hafl the sentence in a sharp breath as she saw what Sara was seeing.  For a moment the pair stood, side by side on the filigree metal bridge.  Then Sara got out her phone and thumbed the same button three times.


Opine, please!

Kirk out